They chose not just to dream big; but also walked the extra mile to ensure that their dreams turned true.

When they graduated from Model Engineering College (MEC) under the Institute of Human Resources Development (IHRD) in Thrikkakara here, they had made up their minds they would rather be job providers than job seekers. Life at MEC had emboldened the spirits of a few youngsters to take the road less travelled.

Leaving the comfort and security offered by a nine-to-five job, they put to the test innovative ideas, risking the chances of failures. And today, they have become part of the expanding ‘start-up’ culture in the country.

Rs. 500 and an idea

Midhun V. Sankar, chief executive officer and co-founder of Verbicio Tech, only had Rs. 500 in his bank account and an idea when he met Bibin George Varghese, his junior at MEC.

“We had little idea about how a company worked. We were also clueless on share allotment or fund procurement necessary to develop an idea. Despite these hiccups, we knew that our idea was worth giving a shot,” said Midhun, who went on to create www.examvoice.com, a free online tutorial site for students.

Launched on October 9, 2012 as part of the Start-up Village in Kochi, the portal can be accessed on computers and mobile phones linked to the Internet. The site offers tutorials in science and engineering, besides access to previous years’ solved question papers. Verbicio now has 10 employees and is looking forward to expand across the country and abroad.

Picture perfect

For Amarnath Vannarath, the face behind Zoomdeck – a web and mobile platform that lets people upload or bookmark photos from anywhere on the web and have great conversations around each of them — success was always about building a brand used by millions around the world. “That’s what we have embarked upon with Zoomdeck, a product that’s going to change the way people interact with and consume photos,” he said.

Amarnath said MEC helped him interact with people who had quit their jobs to build something they were passionate about.

“Deepak Prakash, co-founder of Zoomdeck and my batchmate from MEC, was the one who came up with the idea. We had a few seniors who had gone on to become entrepreneurs in life. I could always see the happiness in their eyes when they spoke about things they were doing in life, which one would never get working for a multi-national company,” he said.

Recipe for success

Cherian Thomas and Arun Prabhakar of MEC came up with the portal, www.cucumbertown.com, in October last year. “We have on board a few people from MEC. Arun was my junior at college. Cucumbertown was the outcome of my passion for cooking. Today, the initiative involves six people, with offices in Bangalore and California,” said Cherian.

“Building a company is the biggest emotional roller coaster ride you could ever have. Nothing is predictable and nothing works according to the plan. But at the end of the day, you are changing something in the system,” he said.

Recalling the role of MEC in their careers, Arun said the college nurtured students of high calibre with tenacity and intelligence to attempt new things.

Arun Thomas K. B, whom Cherian refers to as the one who inspired him to think differently, left his job in an MNC to start the popular portal www.bikes4sale.in. They also run www.mobiles4sale.in. Remya Sebastian, his wife and former student of MEC, is his partner at Karot Technologies, a registered company that operates both the portals.

“At Bikes4Sale, we have a huge customer database. About one lakh bikes have been registered on our website till date. I got the idea when I was able to sell easily my brother’s bike in 2007 through the intranet facility in my friend’s company,” said Arun. Ruby Peethambaran and Jikku Jolly, who founded 4 Ambit, an academic and professional networking site along with Shyam B. Menon, recalled that MEC instilled a holistic outlook among its students.

“We were always encouraged to pursue various interests and the campus enjoyed a rich and egalitarian culture,” Ruby said.

They served corporate companies for over a decade after getting campus placements until they decided they wanted to create something on their own.

Attributing the growing entrepreneurial culture among the students to the varied opportunities on the campus, MEC Principal V. P. Devassia said initiatives like E-Cell (entrepreneurship cell), technopreneur, Yi-Net and sociopreneur played a key role in encouraging students. “We also have the advantage of getting the cream of students from across the State every year. They have exceptional drive and attitude and the passion to work on new ideas,” he said.

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